As a kid, I dreamed of being The Bush Tucker Man. I used to think he had the best job in the world, and now at the age of forty three, I still think that. The adventures of this man are like a portal that still now allow me to climb in, and be transported back thirty years.
So partly this post is about wanting to share with you something that might also transport you back....but also the broader issue of keeping that childlike sense of hope and dreams alive as you get older. The willing suspension of disbelief, the disregard for trivial things such as practicalities and details.....but that burning flame of imagination that makes you feel like a kid again....and just maybe pushes you to take a little adventure of your own.
'The Bush Tucker Man' refers to a retired Major in the Australian army called Les Hiddins - Major Les Hiddins. Les was always something of an expert in the flora and fauna of the Australian bush - and it was this interest and knowledge that led to him being given the mother of all jobs by the army. Les was tasked with the job of travelling the Australian outback, researching how to survive on the land. Drawing on the ancient and deep knowledge of the Aboriginal communities, Les explores the outback in his Army issue Land Rover.
In the late 80s, Les was given his own TV series in Australia called 'The Bush Tucker Man'. It follows him around on his adventures, as he explores the land, camping each night, and explaining how to survive eating the food that can be found on the land - hence the name for the show. 'Tucker' is an Australian word for food for those of you scratching your heads at this point.
Years back I ordered the DVD box set from Australia. The quality of the recordings is loooooow....but for me it's part of its charm. I mean doesn't that say something - that an old pixelated video can stir your soul like that? I reckon if it was in 4k quality, it wouldn't quite have the same charm. The accompanying music through the shows is just perfect - evocative and uplifting. Les is a no-nonsense, say-what-you-mean Aussie and his enthusiasm, dry wit and love of his environment is both addictive and infectious. I feel like I've been with him on all these adventures.
For those of you who may be interested Les wears his signature Akubra hat that he's basically reshaped to give it that unique slant or 'bash' as Les refers to it. Apparently the shape he gave to his hat was a style very common to cattle men in northern Australia - sort of a style unique to them. It's the 'Sombrero' model hat that Akubra make, which in its original shape, looks quite different. Aside from his trusty army fatigues, he always wears a sturdy pair of Australian RM Williams boots.
There are a bunch of videos on YouTube you can see to give you a taste including this one where he meets up with Bushcraft legend Ray Mears and talks about how he got into the job of cataloguing Australia's bush tucker. But there are some things I personally don't mind paying for. Maybe that's the kid in me telling me that Les gets some of the money in return for his passions.You can order the box set from the ABC Network directly in Australia here or from Amazon in the UK here.
Enjoy and I hope you manage to find a little space in your imagination and dreams for the adventures of Les Hiddins, the Bush Tucker Man.